This paper introduces Gertie the Robotic Desk Lamp, a novel research platform that has five degrees of freedom, and is equipped with a camera and microphone in its lamp shade. These features mean that Gertie is a flexible and low-cost resource for conducting research into cognitive products and human-robot interaction. It will be available as an open hardware on http://www.opengertie.org/. Gertie was designed from first principles, and assembled using off the shelf electronic components and parts fabricated using a 3D printer. In this paper, the design of Gertie is presented, and its application as a research platform is described. Gertie has already been used to investigate a problem of simple object tracking, building on computer vision algorithms. Furthermore, it has also been used to investigate and replicate emotional body language. By imitating human body language Gertie is capable of expressing four of the basic Ekman emotions: 1) joy; 2) sadness; 3) surprise; and 4) fear. This work was validated using an online study, which investigates how well the emotions expressed by Gertie are recognized by human audiences. In total 84 participants were shown one video for each of the four emotions and they were asked to choose from a list of seven emotions, which they thought was displayed by Gertie. While joy and sadness were recognized very reliably with 81% and 88% of all people giving the correct answer, fear and surprise were more commonly misinterpreted as surprise and disgust. However, all emotions were recognized above the chance level percentage of 14%.